tv Earth Focus LINKTV November 26, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm PST
>> people hate wolves because they think they see them as a threat to their livelihood. >> wolves are a pretty good killer. >> only a few places in the lannett have made accommodations for the wolves and we are one of them. >> in this area, wolves represent government gone wrong. >> the removal of the wills from the federal endangered species has been done poorly. >> wolves survive right along ranchers. it won't be easy, but there is that opportunity. [howling] the wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and 1996 into phases. there were lands for future introductions of necessary, but they took to yellowstone right
away. it took decades of work to bring them back here. we are in the 18th year of our research program and having the wolves back on the land. we have been studying them ever since the beginning. to me, wolves mean wildlife and wild nature. much of aing so connection as an american society to what our wildlife heritage is and wolves are at the core of that. we know it's a female. and we have the upper jaw and the lower mandible. one of the first things i noticed about this is that it is an extremely old cow. you see a lot of tooth layer in if this were a young cow, these teeth would be high. they would be appear at this level. you can see it almost down to the gum line. this is an old cow. this is a cow that loved a long
time in the ecosystem. she lived for the last 18 years, that lived and survived with wolves. >> if you look at elk herds, there are very healthy elk herds. they are either at or above objectives for elk. you might have times when wolves caused the kurds to decline and take hunting opportunity way from people and we have to come to whether or not that is acceptable to us as a society to have that alan's -- that balance. >> staining, coloring, or everybody wants to be the best in the world. there are a lot here in montana. many have won world titles. hunting is a big heart of our economy out here. and it has gradually gotten bad. we are competing with too many
predators now. the wolves, the mountain lines and the grizzly bears. we use to do over a hundred elk a year. now we are down to around 40. and of lot of them are coming to other parts werewolves are not. that many to go around anymore. there is a place for them, but they need to be regulated like every other animal. i just feel they haven't been. it has gotten way out of control. our wolf season started 10 years ago. >> it was my interpretation that the states were not thrilled about having wolves back in idaho, wyoming, and montana. it's kind of like why did you pick our state? why do we have to live with them? our state, to be in while put them in central park in new york? it is unfair. people tell me that we don't really care for wolves. >> the delisting of wolves from
the endangered species list is agreed-upon based on the estherville science at the time. and that called for a minimum of 300 wolves in the rocky mountains states for three consecutive years or 10 breeding years for each state. and we reach that in 2002. minimumolves is a number of walls to have a viable wolf population. something higher was -- of to have a viable wolf population. something higher was reasonable. many people felt that 2000 wolves in the northern rockies would eventually lead to dispersal into all of the rocky mountain west that have the habitat and the food base to feed them. >> the delisting i think was less than thrilling to a lot of folks when it meant that we would eventually start hunting and trapping them.
[gunshot] >> the delisting was kind of unorthodox considered -- compared to other species were agencies get to the point where they decide we have enough. here, congress decided that they would intervene through a budget writer and d list of wolves. it left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. removal of wolves from the federal and injured -- federal endangered species list was done very pearly. -- very oily. .- very poorly they stuck with the original recovery numbers, which is pretty much nothing. >> there was no doubt a lot of controversy over wolves and a lot of concern, that wildlife
management is supposed to be based in science, not politics. i ain't they responded to the politics of the situation. -- i think they responded to the politics of the situation. never had the secretary of the interior undermine a process like this. >> there is such a long history of hostility toward wolves. i think it was a big problem that wolves were not on the landscape for a few generations, since about the 1930s and that has caused a lot of problems. the hunting industry grew and it was boomtime for the hunters. that was somewhat illusionary it has we didn't have all the predators keeping in check those ungulate populations. so there is a lot of hostility because the folks didn't have to grow up healing with wolves.
all of a sudden, wolves are on the landscape and it really is no right answer to the right number of wolves. we need to be more proactive in solving problems that are perceived by ranchers and also hunters so that we can maintain the ecological impacts of wolves on the ground. >> what are the ecosystem impacts of wolves? predation is a prominent force. through predation, you can not only impact the species, but it can trickle down to other aspects of the food web, even down to the dictation. in the absence of wolves, elk herds got to such a high density that we saw the impact on grassland and some of the wooded browse. now that wolves are back, we are understanding that some areas of the park here on the northern range are starting to grow back yard that is important for other species, such as songbirds and beavers
and other aspects of ecosystem. if wolf populations get too low, we are concerned as biologist for conductivity between the recovery areas and the subpopulations, for genetic health. we can't have our prepositions get too small. the states do acknowledge that carnivores play a role on these landscapes. yes, it's a different situation where you have livestock and there will be conflict. i think that is where the states go and their management goals are to find and strike a balance between the needs of healthy ecosystems and the values of their constituents, which are hunters and livestock producers. but you have into zeus who want wild nature and not stuck in reservations among but in widescale. our main business at the wild site is to take people into the park, yellowstone visitors, so we often get hired by people who specifically want to see a wolf in the wild.
we look at the livelihood today because we do feel there is such a big economy based around the wolf and there are a lot of us were trying to make our livelihoods around the wolf, two. so it is not just the livestock inducers livelihood or the elk hunting outfitters livelihood that we are talking about in the western will debate. there is a lot of tourism livelihood that is at stake to- . -- at stake, too. did allowstone economist survey where he estimated people are spending about $35 million every year in the communities around yellowstone to do this. so it is a significant impact for our economy to have these animals back and people coming to it to see that. >> we never had the expectation that yellowstone wolves would
always be protected. we accept and understand that, when they leave our park, they fall into a different situation. that is part of our understanding. we now have data on what happens when wolves leave a particular place like yellowstone. over last month, we have lost 11 yellowstone park wolves who spent host of their lives in the ark. they don't understand park boundaries. they are subject to the management jurors action of the of thatth -- management jurisdiction, and millions of visitors have seen 832. she was born in 2006. she was an extra gary wolf and she was particularly beautiful. she was one of the best hunters we had ever seen. she could take down out by herself. she was taken 15 miles out of the park are a hunter. this is a act that is used to seeing thousands of people throughout the year and, but quite naïve to humans and tolerant of humans being close by. so she was at a disadvantage in
a landscape where wolves were being hunted. >> what is happening to yellowstone wolves really highlights what is happening throughout the region. those are the most protected and well-managed wolves in the whole region and they are still getting shot. just imagine what is happening to wolves throughout the rest of the region where they have you to know protections. you have 20-pound wolf pups being shot in idaho and wyoming. in wyoming, you can go to national forest land and trap and stare wolves. you can kill wolves however you want. [gunshot] been signed off by the department of the interior and the state of wyoming. >> a lot of the big fans of yellowstone wolves are following the lives of the actual individuals. they are the attraction. these become the stars of our show. so without them, oh, wow, and then to have them hunted, it is even harder for our guests to understand good they could
influence decision about visiting the park in the future. wolf hunting and hunting in general are both extremely important to people in montana. it is interwoven into the traditions we observe, the pathways of our daily lives throughout the year. it is something that we zealously protect. hunting is very important, a very important way in which to put food on the table for many families. a good-sized elk can feed a family of four or more if it is a larger elk throughout the year. that has been the traditional way in montana from decades and centuries, to be sure. , therehe animals come in are a thousand things going through your head.
you have to think, ok, i have to get that all the way, all the way, full draw, everything taught, look at the one spot on the hip. hold. here it comes from behind the tree. hold. go. wolves have had an interesting impact to the prey and predator relationship in montana. they have had an additive effect to the other predation that is going on. in recent years, we have also seen mountain lion populations, grizzly bear populations, but your populations also on the rise -- black bear up regulations also on the rise. so the wolves have made some decreases in numbers of certain animals, which makes it a little bit harder to bring meat to the table. is certainly frustration as part of that reintroduction.
it did feel as if we had to go along for the ride for a while, willingly or not. but now, since the hunts have started it, now we have regained that sense .f empowerment self-sufficiency, involvement in the process. that is really important for us as a state that has the hunting traditions that we have. i get thousands of e-mails per year castigating me as a terrible human being because we allow hunting of wolves in montana. remember, we have in montana some of the healthiest wildlife species on the planet and somehow our wildlife managers are able to manage those species in a way that maintains the numbers and keeps them completely healthy and we have for generations. yet, the will folks in washington, d.c. said, you are good at energy wildlife come up
but we will decide what we will do with wolves. and we say that wolves are a tool in the toolbox and managing all of these other species. we need to manage all of them together. you must the tools so those livestock people out there, if there is a wolf that is attacking their livestock, they can shoot it. if thereld reuters, " is a dang wolf in your corral attacking your cow, shoot that wolf. >> the media is guilty of keeping it polarized. > >> animal lovers, this is a call to action. our tax dollars are being turned against innocent animals during this time, the state of wyoming can declare war on wolves. >> killing wolves, whether hunting, trapping, or removing the problem wolf periodically, it really shouldn't be news
anymore. we don't announce everyone -- every time someone shoots a coyote or someone kills a mountain lion or a bear. wolves are not weapons of mass destruction. they are just another critter on the landscape trying to make a living and doing what god put him there for. >> why the middleground voices aren't heard is a good question. there has been a lot of drama associated with the conflict. [gunfire] trying to live with a wolf is rathere complicated, than a story about don't kill the wolves or kill all the wolves. all you really read about in the newspapers is what the mouthpieces say to the media. i think it is a gross
oversimplification of what is happening on the landscape. when dave and i for started ranching here, very soon after we got sheep, we lost a few two coyotes. at first, we did what everybody did. we called a government trapper and he snared one. it did not take us very long to look at each other and say, you know, if we have to exterminate all of the native species to live, that we probably shouldn't be ranching. part of what makes this special is not just the beautiful view, but the whole biological system that makes this work. and we feel like it's our obligation to figure out how to coexist. people are very frustrated by the way the reintroduction occurred. and in recent years come i think the frustration has increased in many respects because of the way some of the mainstream
environmental groups have handled all of the legal battles surrounding the delisting of wolves. panic ofe initial semi- wolf introduction introduction, there was a time of several years were things simmered down and people began to learn and began to get curious and fascinated by this whole phenomenon. but then, when the battles really heated up about delisting, there was a lot of backlash and a lot of backsliding. and that is what we are in the middle of right now, i think. predator friendly as a certification, basically a group of ranchers who have committed not to kill native carnivores and ordered to protect their sheep. it started in the early-to-mid- 1990s. we started working on mittens and hats and smaller knitted roddick's. it has been a way both producers and consumers to learn of doubt the risks and the rewards of trying to ranch in an environment where we care about the environment. ranchers won't run around and
embrace this idea and embrace wolves, but i think we all feel like this is a work in progress and it will take the kids to really get good at it. but there are people who are making real progress. >> the wolves have been around these cattle and they have to different. if the wolf stays up there, they have no -- i have no problem if somebody is down here harassing my livestock. we have to be able to manage that. >> your paycheck is once or twice a year and this is what you make your living on. it's like anything else. somebody comes into your business and takes a piece of that away, you are pretty aggressive and try to control that are keep that from happening. >> i am a conservation biologist, seth wilson, with a landowner driven water should
group here in >> -- watershed group. >> we act as a form to put some of our differences aside so that we can face these incredibly challenging issues. by 2006, we had our first wolfpack documented in the blackwood called the elevation mountain. >> once they started preying on livestock, we headed -- we had to eliminate the tax. -- the pack. they were going right by the elk herd to come into the cattle. by 2006 to today, we have gone from one wolfpack to about eight to 10. that has forced us to bring communities together to figure out how we adapt. >> when wolves got reintroduced in montana, i think we were all a little bit nervous about what that meant to us.
organizations of like but would challenge and seth wilson is that they engage us in this process. this type of flattery is something that we use in our grazing program. the basic premise is that, when this is flapping in the breeze, colors and ribbons, he it's something that wolves are not comfortable with. it makes them a little bit nervous. so if there are wolves around our cow, we can use this product. if a neighboring ranch has a problem with wolves, we can load this machine up and go down and we can do away a mile or two of this product in short of an hour. so it's very flexible. we've seen it work. >> we have removed livestock carcasses from about 40 ranches every spring so that we don't put the welcome mat out in the first place for bears and wolves. the other program we have is the range rider program. we have five people on the team.
we spent six months in the field radio tracking wolves and communicating every week to be ranching community werewolves are in relationship to their livestock. we put all of that together and we have seen a decrease in our livestock losses to the wolves. we are losing about 3.2 livestock per year with about 40 ranches involved. that is fairly low. when you compare our work to other valleys in montana where there is very little mitigation efforts, there has been significant losses. what we really need to do is scale this up. as can be done. you need the resources, the science and the collaboration. above all, you need the ranchers and landowners who live with the carnivores to be i amng to try this. > >> not elated that the wolves are here, but i am glad to have this resource. >> it's the people that like wolves on the ground to er beef. so we have to -- on the ground
who eat our beef. so we have to think about that. >> i think we have lost sight of about this. it's not about wolves. it's about people. >> it can seem like a paradox and a contradiction to one to appreciate the wildness of the wealth while feeling the need to control it. >> with something like a wolf, you will never make everyone happy so we have to find a -- so we have to try to find a way to meet everyone's core values and accommodate them. >> if we can see your out how to to track this problem, we could figure out other problems in our society. >> it's a lot of work and collaboration can be messy. you can't get there tomorrow. >> there are people who greatly value wilderness and the symbols that bears and wolves have for them. and there are values at play